Today’s blog post will take us to South Eastern Europe, namely to Greece, and to some vocabulary around the theme of shopping.
Scroll down for the English text!!
Esta semana, nuestro viaje nos lleva a Sudamérica, más precisamente a Chile, y a una forma distintiva de arte popular de este país – las arpilleras.
Arpilleras son tapices o imágenes textiles multicolores hechas con retales distintas que cuentan una historia y las experiencias de la vida cotidiana del pueblo. Son documentos históricos, mensajes de protesta y una forma del arte popular y del patriomonio al mismo tiempo. Tienen su origen en la dictatura militar de Augusto Pinochet Ugarte en Chile (1973-1990), durante la cual servían a documentar, a expresar y a denunciar la opresión y los crimenes del régimen porque todas otras formas de expresión libre normales eran prohibidas.
Las arpilleras chilenas fueron hechas por arpilleristas, grupas de mujeres cuyos maridos y/o hijos eran entre los víctimas del régimen, los así llamados ‘desaparecidos’ o ‘detenidos’. Fueron hechas en talleres organizados por una comisión de la Iglesia Católica chilena y entonces distribuídas en secreto al extranjero por la Vicaria de la Solidaridad, un grupo de derechos humanos de la iglesia católica de Santiago. El gobierno chileno consideraba las arpilleras traicioneras y prohibía su venta o exposición en el país, y por eso las primeras tapices fueron pasadas de contrabando al extranjero en bolsas diplomáticas. El régimen también confiscaba todos los paquetes, bolsas o maletas en los que sospecharon arpilleras. Por esta razón y para proteger a las mujeres, los tapices generalmente eran sin firmar. A menudo las ganancias de su venta en el entranjero eran los únicos ingresos de las arpilleristas porque a los parientes de detenidos o desaparecidos prohibieron hacer la mayoría de los trabajos.
Las raíces de las arpilleras datan de la época de los años 60 cuando una industria casera se desarrolló que producía bordados decorativos con escenas de la vida doméstica y rural con lana y hilos coloridos. Sin embargo, después del golpe militar en 1973, había escasez de lana y como consecuencia las arpilleristas empezaban a utilizar retales de paños por sus tapices. Las mujeres se reunían en pequeños talleres de un sólo cuarto en las afueras de Santiago cada semana para trabajar juntas. Cada taller tenía más o menos 20 miembros y a cada arpillerista se le permitió hacer sólo una arpillera cada semana, a menos que su necesidad de dinero era tan grande que el grupo decidió que podía hacer dos. El grupo también determinó el tema de las arpilleras cada semana. Cada arpillera era el trabajo de una mujer individual que desarrolló el diseño en el taller y luego lo cosió en casa.
Había algunas reglas respecto a los temas y a lo que podía ser mostrado en los tapices o no: por ejemplo, escenas de tortura u otros temas abiertamente políticos eran prohibidos, tanto como otras imágenes fuertes que puedan provocar el gobierno a detener a las mujeres. Solo eran permitidos eslóganes y palabras que también aparecían en la vida cotidiana, como sobre pancartas de manifestantes. Temas corrientes y comunes de las arpilleras son escenas de la vida rural y cotidiana, generalmente con los Andes en el fondo como testimonio e indicio de que las cuentas representadas tenían lugar en Chile, y casas, árboles y figuras humanas – generalmente tridimensionales con piezas como cabezas, brazos, etc. que resaltan de la superficie plana. Imágenes recurrentes incluyen ollas comunes (grandes calderos negros sobre un fuego) que la Iglesia chilena suministraba, los talleres de arpilleras mismos, las bombas de agua comunales y panaderías y lavanderías cooperativas que eran organizadas para ayudar a los pobres. Representaciones más políticas incluían grupos de manifestantes que llevaban pancartas y distribuían folletos políticos – ambos actos ilegales – , la policía militar con uniformes oscuros o puertas de fábricas y hospitales con una X sobre ellas, lo que significaba que eran cerradas a las familias de los desaparecidos o detenidos. Otros temas frecuentes eran niños que rebuscaban y coleccionaban cartones para venderlos, que lavaban coches o hacían cola delante de los hospitales o para recibir leche, o líneas eléctricas que la gente conectaba con las líneas eléctricas principales durante la noche para robar electricidad después de que el gobierno cerró su suministro de electricidad. Otros materiales, como por ejemplo frijoles secos, piezas de plástico, de papel, metal o de madera, fueron también cosidos o pegados a la superficie de las arpilleras.
Sin embargo, no todas las arpilleras mostraban escenas políticas y denunciantes: Algunas retratan una vida ‘idealizada’ como las mujeres la habrían deseado, con niños alegres, un paisaje pacífico, mercados florecientes y un buen Sistema de asistencia sanitaria, etc. – en breves palabras, retratos que expresaron el deseo y la esperanza de un futuro mejor. Por otro lado, había también talleres de arpilleras sancionados por el gobierno en los que mujeres fieles a la dictatura cosían tapices de propaganda, con temas alegres que retrataron a Chile como un país próspero con un gobierno benévolo. Con el tiempo, el arte de las arpilleras fue también adoptado por la gente en otros países latinoamericanos, especialmente en Perú, Nicaragua y Colombia, y sus tapices casi siempre retratan una vida feliz.
Today’s blog post is taking us to South America and Chile and to an art form that originated in this country, namely the Arpilleras, patchwork tapestries that were made by groups of women, the arpilleristas, during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1973-1990) in Chile. The name arpillera derives from the Spanish word for ‘burlap’ (=arpillera), a type of sackcloth onto which the designs were sewn.
Arpilleras are small figurative patchwork tapestries made from scraps of fabric, which tell a story and the experiences of daily life of the makers and typically depict images of hardship, violence and of oppressive living conditions and human rights abuses during the regime. They are historical records, protest messages and a form of folk art and heritage at the same time. They have their origin in the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet Ugarte in Chile (1973-1990), during which all normal means of free speech and of free expression were prohibited and so they served as an outlet to document, denounce and express the oppression and crimes of the regime.
The Chilean arpilleras were made by the arpilleristas, groups of women whose husbands and sons were among the desaparecidos, literally ‘those who have disappeared’, and the detained. They were made in workshops organized by a commission of the Chilean Catholic Church and then distributed abroad in secret by the Vicaria de la Solidaridad, the Vicarate of Solidarity, a human rights group of the Catholic church of Santiago. The Chilean government considered the arpilleras as traitorous and prohibited their sale and exhibition in the country. Therefore, the first tapestries had to be smuggled out of the country in diplomatic pouches. The regime also confiscated all packages, bags and suitcases in which they suspected arpilleras. For this reason and to protect the women, the tapestries were usually not signed. The proceeds from their sale abroad was often the only source of income of the arpilleristas because the relatives of the detained and disappeared were barred from most jobs.
The roots of this folk art practice date back to the 1960s when a home-based industry developed which produced decorative embroidered wall hangings with scenes of domestic and rural life made from wool and colourful threads. However, after the military coup in 1973, there was a scarcity of wool and so the arpilleristas started using fabric scraps for their tapestries. The women met in small one-room workshops in the outskirts of Santiago each week to work together. Each workshop had about 20 members and each arpillerista was only allowed to make one tapestry each week, unless she was so needy that the group allowed her to make two. The group also decided a topic for the tapestries to be made that week, but each arpillera was nevertheless the work and design of an individual woman who developed the design in the workshop and then sewed the tapestry at home.
There were several rules about subject matter and about what could be shown in the tapestries and what not: for example, scenes of torture and other overtly political topics were prohibited, as well as other strong images which could provoke the government to detain the women. Only slogans and phrases which also appeared in daily life, like on banners of demonstrators, could be included. Recurring and common subjects of the arpilleras are scenes of rural and daily life, usually with the Andes mountains, los Andes, in the background as a testimony and an indication that the stories represented in the tapestries took place in Chile, as well as trees, houses and human figures – generally three-dimensional with pieces like arms, heads, etc. projecting from the flat surface. Other recurring imagery includes the so-called ‘common pots’, or ollas comunes (big black cauldrons on a fire), i.e. soup-kitchens which the Catholic church provided, the arpillera workshops themselves, communal water pumps and co-operative bakeries and laundries, which were organized to help the poor. More political images include groups of demontrators who carried banners and distributed political pamphlets – both of which were illegal actions – , the military police with their dark uniforms or doors of factories and hospitals with an X on them, which signalled that they were barred for the families of the desaparecidos, ‘those who have disappeared’, and of the detained. Further recurring subjects are children who searched for and collected cardboards to sell, who washed cars or were queuing in front of hospitals or to receive some milk, as well as electrical lines which people connected to the main power lines at night to steal electricity after the government shut down their own power supply. Other materials, like for example dried beans (frijoles secos), pieces of plastic, metal or wood, were also sewn or glued to the surface of the arpilleras.
However, not all of these patchwork tapestries showed political or denouncing subject matter: Some painted the picture of an ‘idealized’ life which the women would have wished to have, with happy children, peaceful landscapes, flourishing markets and a good health care system, etc. – in short, images which expressed the wish and hope for a better future. On the other hand, there were also workshops for government-sanctioned arpilleras, in which women loyal to the dictatorship sewed propaganda tapestries, with cheerful subject matter which portrayed Chile as a prosperous country with a benevolent government. Over time, the folk art of making arpilleras was taken over by people in other Latin American countries, especially Peru, Nicaragua and Colombia, and their tapestries almost always show scenes of a happy life.
What is an Arpillera? http://benton.uconn.edu/exhibitions/arpilleria/what-is-an-arpillera/
Telling the story https://www.brandeis.edu/ethics/events/past/tellingthestory/agosin.html
This week’s blog post is taking us to Israel and to the Jewish diaspora again and we are going to look at the vocabulary related to the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana ראש השנה, which was celebrated this week, and the foods that are usually eaten on this holiday (these vary depending on the country of origin).
Today’s blog post will take us to Scandinavia, and to some thematic vocabulary about a topic of current importance, namely the environment, in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian.
Miljøet = the environment
globale oppvarming = global warming
Klimaendringen = climate change
Drivhuseffekten = Greenhouse Effect
utslipp av karbondioksid = carbon dioxide emissions
drivhusgasser = greenhouse gases
havnivåstigningen/ Havnivåendring = sea level rise
økosystemet = ecosystem
biologisk mangfoldet = biodiversity
en truet art = a threatened species
ørkendannelse = desertification
en regnskog = rainforest
avskogningen = deforestation
forurensningen = pollution
sur nedbør = acid rain
holdbar = sustainable
fornybar = renewable
fornybar energy = renewable energy
bærekraft = sustainability
Miljøet = the environment
global opvarmning = global warming
Klimaændringen = climate change
Drivhuseffekten = Greenhouse Effect
Kuldioxidudslippet = carbon dioxide emissions
Drivhusgasser = greenhouse gases
stigende vandstand i havene = sea level rise
økosystemet = ecosystem
biodiversitet = biodiversity
en truet art = a threatened species
ørkendannelse = desertification
en regnskov = rainforest
skovrydningen = deforestation
forureningen = pollution
syreregn = acid rain
bæredygtig = sustainable
Vedvarende = renewable
vedvarende energi = renewable energy
bæredygtighed = sustainability
Miljön = the environment
Global uppvärmning = global warming
Klimatförändringen = climate change
Växthuseffekten = Greenhouse Effect
Koldioxidutsläppet = carbon dioxide emissions
Växthusgaser = greenhouse gases
höjning av havsnivån/havsnivåhöjning = sea level rise
ekosystemet = ecosystem
den biologiske mångfald = biodiversity
en hotad art = a threatened species
ökenspridningen = desertification
en regnskog = rainforest
avskogningen/skogskövlingen = deforestation
miljöförstöring = pollution
surt regn = acid rain
hållbar = sustainable
förnybar = renewable
förnybar energi = renewable energy
hållbarhet = sustainability
Today’s blog post will take us to Asia and America, namely to Chinese, Turkish and the Native American Lakota language. All three languages and cultures associate different colours with the four cardinal directions.
Colours associated with the cardinal directions in Chinese
In China, each of the 4 cardinal directions is associated with a colour, as well as an animal and a season. The centre is yellow and is associated with the human realm. The North is associated with the colour black, as well as winter and a turtle 龜 Guī or snake. The South is thought of as red, and its associated animal is the phoenix 凤凰 Fènghuáng and the summer season. The East is associated with the Chinese colour qing 青, which denotes green as well as blue. (See a previous blog post on colour perception in different languages). Its animal is the dragon 龍 lóng and its season is spring. The West is white, and its animal is the tiger 虎 Hǔ and the season of autumn.
Colours associated with the cardinal directions in Turkish
Also the Turkish language associates different colours with the four directions. The North is thought of as black (kara), the East is associated with the Turkish colour gök, which is a sky blue or turquoise, the South is seen as red (kızıl, a rusty shade of red) and the West is associated with the colour white (ak). What is interesting in Turkish is that the seas surrounding the Turkish peninsula and Anatolia take their names from these colour associations: the Mediterranean, which is west of Turkey, is called Akdeniz, or the White Sea, the Red Sea is Kızıl Deniz, and is located to the south of Turkey (its name is said to come from the rust-coloured sediments flowing into it) and the Black Sea, or Kara Deniz, is north of Anatolia (the Black Sea is also rich in iron sulfides, where only sulphur bacteria can thrive, and its sediments are dark).
Colours associated with the cardinal directions in Lakota
The Native American language Lakota associates not just a different colour with each of the cardinal directions, but each direction also has a value or virtue attributed to it as well as an animal nation, and a stage of life. There are two different systems of colour association, which vary from dialect to dialect. The centre of the sacred circle, or hocoka, is green and blue, the green standing for Grandmother Earth and the blue for the Sky. The North is associated with cold, discomfort and hardship (the direction from which winter comes), the East is associated with the sunrise, the South is the direction from which the sun is strongest, and the West is associated with the sunset and, by extension, the end of life.
Today’s blog post is taking us to North-Eastern Europe again, namely to the 3 Baltic countries (Estonian: Balti riigid, Baltimaad, Latvian: Baltijas valstis, Lithuanian: Baltijos valstybės) Estonia Eesti, Latvia Latvija and Lithuania Lietuva and to their respective languages. Estonian belongs to the Balto-Finnic branch of the Uralic languages, whereas Latvian and Lithuanian belong to the Baltic language group of the Indo-European languages.
Survival vocabulary in Latvian
Sveiks (said to a male)/Sveika (said to a female) = Hello
Labdien = Good day/afternoon, hello
Uz redzēšanos! = goodbye!
Jā / nē = yes / no
Paldies = Thank you
Lūdzu = please; you are welcome
Vai jūs runājat latviski/angliski? = Do you speak Latvian/English?
Atvainojiet = excuse me
Piedodiet = sorry, I apologize
Kā jums klājas? = How are you?
Labi, paldies = fine, thank you
Kā jūs sauc? = What is your name?
Mani sauc… = My name is…
Prieks iepazīties! = Nice to meet you!
No kurienes jūs esat? = Where are you from?
Es esmu no… = I am from…
Survival vocabulary in Lithuanian
Labas/ sveiki = hello
Laba diena = good day (‘good afternoon’)
Sudie = goodbye
Taip/ ne = yes, no
Ačiū!/Dėkoju! = Thank you
Prašom! = please; you are welcome; here you are; don’t mention it
Ar jūs kalbate angliškai? = Do you speak English?
Aš nesuprantu = I don’t understand
Kaip gyvuojate? = How are you?
Man viskas gerai = I am fine
Kaip jūsų vardas? = What is your name?
Mano vardas yra… = My name is…
Malonu = nice to meet you
Atsiprašau = excuse me
Atleiskite = sorry
Iš kur jūs esate? = Where are you from?
Aš esu iš… = I am from…
Survival vocabulary in Estonian
Tere = hello
Head aega = goodbye
Jah/ei = yes/no
Vabandage = excuse me; sorry
Aitäh/tänän = thank you
Palun = you are welcome; please
Kas te räägite eesti/inglise keelt? = do you speak Estonian/English?
Kust te pärit olete? = where are you from?
Mis te nimi on? = What is your name?
Minu nimi on…/Ma olen… = My name is…/I am…
Väga meeldiv = nice to meet you
Kuidas läheb? = how are you?
Hästi = fine
Today’s blog post will take us to India भारत Bharat, and to Indian art, कला kala, and aesthetic theory.
Indian art is based on the ancient aesthetic theory of rasa रस (Sanskrit lit. ‘juice’, ‘extract of a fruit’ or ‘essence’) which, by extension, refers to the finest quality of an object. The term rasa रस generally refers to the ‘essence’ and emotional qualities crafted into a work of art (or a performance) by the maker and to the response the contemplation or perception of the artwork evokes in the viewer, or sahṛdaya सह्रदय. So it is a viewer-response theory. Rasas are created by bhavas भव (or states of mind). The concept of rasa has its origins in performance theory. Emphasis is therefore always on the spectator, and the artwork or performer only serves as a means for the viewer to experience the different rasas. That is the reason why in Indian paintings and sculpture a narrative mode predominates: a narrative gradually unfolds over the area of a painting or the length of a wall or even building.
The concept of rasa is fundamental to many forms of Indian art, and can be found in dance and performance, music, musical theatre, literature as well as cinema.
The Rasas were first described by Bharata Muni भरत मुनी, an ancient Indian musicologist and theatrologist, in the Nāṭya Śāstra (Sanskrit: नाट्य शास्त्र, Nāṭyaśāstra), a Sanskrit Hindu text on dramatic theory and the performing arts, written between 200 BCE and 200 CE. According to this text, there are 8 original rasas, each of which has an associated deity and a specific colour. Later authors have added a 9th rasa, plus some additional rasas.
- Shringaram (शृङ्गारं) Love, attractiveness, erotic. Deity: Vishnu. Colour: green; the erotic rasa is blue-black. Considered the ‘king of rasas‘.
- Hasyam (हास्यं) Laughter, mirth, comedy, comic. Deity: Ganesha. Colour: white.
- Raudram (रौद्रं) Fury. Deity: Rudra. Colour: red.
- Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यं) Compassion, tragedy, pathetic. Deity: Yama. Colour: dove-coloured (grey-white).
- Bībhatasam (बीभत्सं) Disgust, aversion, abhorrent, shocking, odious. Deity: Shiva. Colour: blue
- Bhayānakam (भयानकं) Horror, terror, fear, terrible. Deity: Kala. Colour: black
- Vīram (वीरं) Heroic mood. Deity: Indra. Colour: wheatish brown (yellow, ochre)
- Adbhutam (अद्भुतं) Wonder, amazement, wonderful, wondrous. Deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow
- The 9th rasa is Śāntam (शांता) Peace or tranquility, quiescent. Deity: Vishnu. Colour: perpetual white (silvery, the colour of the moon and of jasmine)
The 9th Shanta-rasa is simultaneously seen as an equal member of the rasas, but also as distinct, since it represents the clearest form of aesthetic bliss and has been described as “as-good-as but never-equal-to the bliss of Self-realization experienced by yogis”.
In Indian art, the rasas become apparent, for example in the colour in which a certain deity is depicted which hints at the predominant character trait associated with this deity, or in the colour of the aura of a person. For instance, a black aura indicates a frightened person, and a red aura indicates that the character is angry. The god Krishna, who is the archetypal lover and hero, is always depicted with a blue-black complexion and yellow garments.
Two additional rasas appeared later on, in particular in Indian literature. These are:
- Vātsalya (वात्सल्य) Parental Love
- Bhakti (भक्ति) Spiritual Devotion
However, a specific deity or colour has not been assigned to these two rasas.
Another important term in Indian art is Murti (Sanskrit: मूर्ति Mūrti) which usually refers to any solid object that has a definite shape and is made from material elements like wood, stone, pottery or metal. The term murti basically refers to any statue, or to an image or idol of a deity or person, as well as to any incarnation, embodiment, manifestation and appearance of a deity. Murti constrasts with the immaterial world of mind and thought of ancient Indian literature.
Medieval Hindu texts like the Puranas (Sanskrit: पुराण, purāṇa, lit. ‘ancient’, ‘old’), the Agamas (Sanskrit: आगम, lit.’tradition’, from the verb root गम gam meaning ‘to go’ and the preposition आ aa meaning ‘toward’ -> ‘that which has come down’) and the Samhitas (Sanskrit: संहिता, saṁhitā, lit. ‘put together, joined, union’) described the proper proportions, positions and gestures (mudra) for the murti.
The expressions in a Murti vary, but there are two major categories in Hindu iconography:
- Raudra रौद्र (lit. dire) or Ugra उग्र (lit. fierce, violent, furious) symbolism – used to express fear, violence and destruction (deities: Kali, Durga). Typical elements include adornment with skulls and bones, weapons, and wide, circular eyes. Raudra deity temples were invariably located outside of villages or towns, and in remote areas of a kingdom. Ugra images were worshipped by soldiers before going to war, or by people in times of distress.
- Shanta शांता (lit. peaceful) and Saumya सौम्या (lit. gentle, benign, kind) symbolism – used to express joy, love, compassion, kindness, knowledge, harmony and peace (deities: Lakshmi, Saraswati). These temples were predominantly located inside towns and villages. Saumya images symbolize peace, sensuality, knowledge, music, wealth, flowers, etc.
Apart from anthropomorphic murti, some Hindu traditions prefer aniconism, that is the absence of figurative representations of the natural or supernatural world. Here the murti take the shape of the linga for Shiva, the yoni for Devi, and the shaligrama for Vishnu.
A murti may be found inside or outside homes as well as temples, and in some cases it can just be a landmark. A murti is often considered as an embodiment of the divine or Brahman, and may be treated as a welcome guest in homes and serve as a participant in Puja rituals.
The artist, कलाकार kalakar, or artisan who makes any works of art or crafts, including murti, is known as Shilpin शिल्पिन्, (for a male artist) or Shilpini शिल्पिनी (for a female artist). The Shilpins design the murti according to the rules of canonical manuals like the Agamas and the Shilpa Shastras. The term Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: शिल्प शास्त्र śilpa śāstra) literally means the Science or Discipline of the Shilpa (i.e. the arts and crafts). Shilpa शिल्प refers to any art or craft, while Shastra शास्त्र means ‘iconography’, ‘a work of scripture’ or ‘discipline’. Man-made works of art are termed Shilpani शिल्पनि. The Shilpa Shastra is an umbrella term for various Hindu treatises and manuals on the arts and crafts, which outline Hindu iconography, design principles and rules, composition, the ideal proportions for human sculptures, as well as the principles and rules of architecture.
The Brihat Samhita बृहत् संहिता (lit. ‘Large Codex’), a 6th-century encyclopedia covering a wide range of topics from astrology to horticulture to murti and temple design, and the 6th-century treatise Manasara-Shilpashastra मनसारा शिल्पशास्त्र (literally: ‘treatise on art using the method of measurement’), specify 9 materials that can be used for the creation of murti: stone पत्थर patthar, wood लकड़ी lakadee, copper तांबा taamba, gold सोना sona, silver चांदी chaandee, earth (= clay मिट्टी mittee or terracotta टेरकोटा), sudha सुधा (a type of mortar plaster or stucco), sarkara सरकार (gravel, grit), and abhasa आभास (various types of marble or stones, which have a range of colours and opacity). Metal murti are often made from a special alloy called panchaloha, which is believed to have auspicious properties and is considered of sacred significance. Panchaloha (Sanskrit: पञ्चलोह), which is also known as Panchadhatu (Sanskrit: पञ्चधातु, lit. ‘five metals’), is an alloy consisting of 5 metals, namely gold (Au), silver (Ag), copper (Cu) iron (Fe) and lead (Pb); the lead is often replaced by tin (Sn) or zinc (Zn).
References: Indian Art, by Vidya Dehejia, Phaidon Press, London, 1997
Today’s blog post is continuing our series on the comparison of vocabulary of closely related languages and is taking us to the British Isles again, as well as to Brittany (Bretagne) in France, and to the various Celtic languages spoken there, namely Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, as well as Cornish and Breton. Our topic today is the weather and the most important words related to it. Both Welsh (Cymraeg) and Cornish (Kernewek) belong to the Brittonic group of the Celtic languages (to which also Breton Brezhoneg belongs), and Irish (Gaeilge) and Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) belong to the Goidelic group (to which also Manx Gaelg belongs).
The terms for these weather-related words in Cornish/Kernewek:
weather – kewer, sunshine – Howl, wind – gwyns, rainbow – kammneves, rain – glaw, clouds – kommol, thunder – taran, thunderstorm – hagarawel derednow, lightning – lughes, snow – ergh, hail – keser
and in Breton/Brezhoneg:
the weather – an amzer, sunshine – Heol, wind – avel, rainbow – kanevedenn, rain – glav, cloud – koumoul, thunder – taran, thunderstorm – arnev, lightning – luc’hed, snow – erc’h, hail – grizilh
Today’s blog post continuous our series on efficient learning and revision strategies in language learning and will show you some simple methods with which you can avoid mixing up closely related languages.
A simple but very efficient method of learning or revising closely related languages is to use textbooks and learning materials written in one of the languages to learn or revise the other one. To give an example, if you tend to mix up, let’s say, Spanish and Portuguese, or Spanish and Italian, then use some materials that are written in your ‘stronger’ language of the two to revise or learn the other. The great advantage of this method is that you see the two languages directly side by side in comparison. If you compare the vocabulary when revising, you will see exactly where the two languages converge and use a very similar or even identical word or expression, and where they depart and use a quite different word or phrase. A nice side effect of this technique is also that you can practice and revise two languages at the same time. And in the case that you really do not understand a word or phrase in either of the languages, you can always look up that word or phrase in a dictionary in your native tongue. A further advantage of using materials written for speakers of one of the two languages for learning the other is that these books and resources will usually point out the pitfalls precisely for speakers of one of the languages in learning the other and often contain tips on which aspects in particular to pay attention to avoid any such mistakes and ‘false friends’.
If you prefer online-resources to books, then you can use the same technique on duolingo, both for revision and to learn a new language. One of the nice things about this platform is that many languages are available in a wide range of language combinations, especially the more popular languages, so that you can choose one that suits you best, e.g. learning Italian via Spanish, or a Spanish-Portuguese combination, etc. The system will then show you exactly where the sentences in both languages converge and depart in their vocabulary and grammatical structures. Those readers who know the platform will know how strict the system is about a very precise translation of the words and sentences. If you practice regularly in this way, you will be far less likely to mix up the similar languages over time.